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Best and Fairest awards

Melbourne’s awards are named after Club identities, with particular concentration on our wartime fallen.  Below are the identities as they have evolved since the Best and Fairest was first awarded in 1935.  The Best and Fairest was named in Truscott’s honour as of 1943.  Other awards for performance at the Casey Scorpions and staff awards are named in honour of the late Troy Broadbridge and Jim Cardwell.

A new award was also added in 2013, with the James McDonald award for the Best Team Man recognising the contribution of McDonald as dual Best and Fairest, respected captain and contributor throughout his career.

Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott – Best and Fairest
Guernsey No. 5
Heritage No. 557
1937 – 1940, 1942
50 games, 31 goals
Premierships 1939, 1940

A larger than life redhead who went on to become a wartime hero, renowned for his prowess as a pilot, ‘Bluey’ played on a half forward flank and was celebrated for his determination.  He was killed in an air accident over Exmouth Gulf (WA) in 1943, and Melbourne coach ‘Checker’ Hughes named the Best and Fairest in his honour.  ‘Bluey’ was never a natural footballer, but had a great sense of competition and loved being part of the Club.  He was also not a natural pilot, having problems with depth perception, but he overcame this obstacle to be recognised with two Distinguished Flying Crosses.

Sid Anderson – Second Best and Fairest
Guernsey No. 36
Heritage No. 575
1939 – 1941
52 games, 12 goals
Premierships 1939, 1940, 1941

An RAAF navigator, Anderson – who was also a brilliant cricketer - was a wingman who had the agility to match his height, although his light frame was sometimes a concern.  Among the best at Grand Final time, playing in a memorable hattrick of flags for Melbourne, Anderson lost his life in the air over New Guinea in 1944.  His fate was not known for some time, as he was listed as ‘missing, believed killed’.

Ron Barassi Snr – Third Best and Fairest
Guernsey No. 31
Heritage No. 551
1936 – 1940
58 games, 84 goals
Premiership 1940

A courageous rover, Barassi was nineteenth man in the 1940 premiership side.  Tragically, he was killed at Tobruk when he took over driving an ambulance from an ill colleague. Melbourne went on to foster the talents of his son, Ronald Junior, with the entire family at the heart of the Club.  One of the central documents at the Club is the Coterie supporter group’s ‘pledge’, committing to assist the Barassi family following Ron Snr’s death.  Ronald Jnr then came to Melbourne as the first example of the father-son rule, and became a legend of the game.

Ivor Warne-Smith – Fourth Best and Fairest
Guernsey No. 14
Heritage No. 355
1919, 1925 – 1932
146 games, 110 goals
Premiership 1926
Brownlow Medallist 1926, 1928

A quiet achiever who could ‘play anywhere’, Warne-Smith dominated his era, winning Brownlows in 1926 and 1928, later ruling supreme in a different role, working with the likes of Norm Smith, Albert Chadwick and Jim Cardwell to construct the Melbourne brilliance of the 1950s and 1960s.  Ivor did not have a straightforward path into the game, however.  He was a Gallipoli veteran, who was gassed under fire, but who also served in WW2.  Ivor went to play in Tasmania and run an apple farm after his first season with Melbourne – and was only persuaded to continue his career after a number of VFL clubs expressed an interest due to his starring role at the Latrobe Football Club.

Dick Taylor – Fifth Best and Fairest
Guernsey No. 35
Heritage No. 404
1922 – 1931, 1935
164 games, 100 goals
Premiership 1926

One of the finest centremen of his day, Taylor played a major part in Melbourne’s 1926 premiership success, and went on to serve as a Committee member after his retirement.  A model of consistency, he played over 100 consecutive games.  He is best known for his ground skills, and during that era, his partnership with teammate Stan ‘Bunny’ Wittman heading down the MCG wing was legendary.  Taylor played 15 times for Victoria, and went on to coach North Melbourne in 1932 and 1933, before heading back to resume his involvement with Melbourne.

Norm Smith – Coaches Award
Guernsey No. 4
Heritage No. 543
1935 – 1948
210 games, 546 goals
Premierships 1939, 1940, 1941, 1948

Before he coached the Club to six premierships in 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960 and 1964, ‘Smithy’ ruled supreme in Melbourne’s forward line, playing in the premierships of 1939, 1940, 1941 and 1948.  The Club’s all-time leading goalkicker until surpassed by David Neitz, he dominated the game for four decades as coach, player and larger than life personality.  However, when he first came to the Club, he was renowned for being unobtrusive, gradually growing into a force to be reckoned with as he made his way in the game.  This extended into his seasons as coach, in which he confirmed himself as one of the most intense competitors ever seen.  He is the coach of both the AFL and MFC Teams of the Century.  In the ultimate recognition, the award for the best player on the ground on Grand Final Day is named in his honour – the Norm Smith Medal.

Ron Barassi Jnr – Leadership Award
Guernsey No. 31
Heritage No. 741
1953 – 1964
204 games, 295 goals
Premierships 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1964

A true legend of the game, Barassi is integral to Melbourne, and was part of the Club from his childhood, with his father having played a generation before.  Barassi Jnr revolutionised the role of ruck rover, and his natural leadership skills proved instrumental to his success as both player and coach.  He also had the mixed blessing of living with coach Norm Smith during his youth, with Smith being harder on Barassi than any other player.  However, Barassi was up to the challenge - a fierce competitor who captained the Club to two flags out of the six premiership sides in which he played, and went on to cement his fame as a master coach at both Carlton and North Melbourne, and an innovator of the game, particularly in fostering the ‘Irish Experiment’ that brought Jim Stynes and Sean Wight to the Melbourne Football Club.

Harold Ball – Best Young Player
Guernsey No. 11
Heritage No. 569
1939 – 1940
33 games, 33 goals
Premierships 1939, 1940

An emerging ruckman, Ball was fundamental to the premiership successes of the Club in 1939 and 1940, before losing his life during World War Two.  He originally hailed from Merbein, in the north of Victoria, and like other ruckmen who followed him, wore the No. 11 guernsey with great pride.  Ball worked at the MCG as a groundsman when he first came to Melbourne, and was instrumental in the team’s success in 1939 and 1940.  He was shaping up as an inspiring defender, and in his first year, was named as the team’s Best First Year player.  The award was named in his honour as of 1946. Ball was just 21 when he was killed on an expedition to collect and transport the wounded, and was buried at Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore.

Ian Ridley – Club Ambassador Award
Guernsey No. 24
Heritage No. 755
1954 – 1961
130 games, 228 goals
Premierships 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960

One of the most gritty, tenacious rovers of his day, and rated as the best since the war, Ian ‘Tiger’ Ridley - originally from Jeparit in the Mallee - was widely known for his selflessness and enthusiasm, and for overcoming bad eyesight and lack of height to become a legend of the game.   Jim Cardwell (Club Secretary and recruiting guru) summed up Ridley when he described him – ‘Small in inches but very big in heart.’  Ridley was the first to ever play wearing contact lenses, and was a key figure in five Melbourne premierships.  In 1958, when Melbourne was defeated by Collingwood in a shock loss, he had his nose badly broken, but played on regardless.  After retirement, Ridley coached the Club between 1971 and 1973.  He also went on to serve in a number of wider V/AFL and administrative posts, particularly as Melbourne’s Club President between 1992 and 1996.

Past winners

1935- Allan La Fontaine
1936 -Allan La Fontaine
1937 -Jack Mueller
1938 -Norm Smith
1939 - Jack Mueller
1940 - Ron Baggott
1941 - Allan La Fontaine
1942 - Allan La Fontaine
1943 - Don Cordner
1944 - Norm Smith
1945 - Fred Fanning
1946 - Jack Mueller
1947 - Wally Lock
1948 - Alby Rodda
1949 - Len Dockett
1950 - Denis Cordner
1951 - Noel McMahen
1952 - Geoff McGivern
1953 - Ken Melville
1954 - Denis Cordner
1955 - Stuart Spencer
1956 - Stuart Spencer
1957 - John Beckwith
1958 - Laurie Mithen
1959 - Laurie Mithen
1960 - Brian Dixon
1961 - Ron Barassi
1962 - Hassa Mann
1963 - Hassa Mann
1964 - Ron Barassi
1965 - John Townsend
1966 - Terry Leahy
1967 - Hassa Mann
1968 - Ray Groom
1969 - John Townsend
1970 - Frank Davis
1971 - Greg Wells
1972 - Stan Alves
1973 - Carl Ditterich
1974 - Stan Alves
1975 - Laurie Fowler
1976 - Greg Wells
1977 - Robert Flower
1978 - Garry Baker
1979 - Laurie Fowler
1980 - Laurie Fowler
1981 - Steven Smith
1982 - Steven Icke
1983 - Alan Johnson
1984 - Gerard Healy
1985 - Danny Hughes
1986 - Greg Healy
1987 - Steven Stretch
1988 - Steven O’Dwyer
1989 - Alan Johnson
1990 - Garry Lyon
1991 - Jim Stynes
1992 - Glenn Lovett
1993 - Todd Viney
1994 - Garry Lyon
1995 - Jim Stynes
1996 - Jim Stynes
1997 - Jim Stynes
1998 - Todd Viney
1999 - David Schwarz
2000 - Shane Woewodin
2001 - Adem Yze
2002 - David Neitz
2003 - Russell Robertson
2004 - Jeff White
2005 - Travis Johnstone
2006 - James McDonald
2007 - James McDonald
2008 - Cameron Bruce
2009 - Aaron Davey
2010 - Brad Green
2011 - Brent Moloney
2012 - Nathan Jones
2013 - Nathan Jones
2014 - Nathan Jones
2015 - Bernie Vince
2016 - Jack Viney